Before you read this, I want you to repeat this statement slowly: “nothing is permanent.”
I struggled with, nay, was crippled by, for many years, the fear of permanence and mistakes that would affect infinity.
If good things must come to an end, why would bad things be any different?
After 28.25 years of life, I have learned that very little is permanent. Yes, your actions create a ripple in your life and in the lives of others, but no condition is irreversible. Just by looking at a problem differently, or framing it from another angle, you can take away its power over you.
Many ‘problems’ in life are self-created, and can be self-solved given the commitment to take action.
This puffy, powdery talk is simply to say: you can’t sit still and wait for a solution to come to you, for fear of making the wrong choice. You have to walk, stumble, and leap when the time is right, scary as it may seem.
I had coffee this morning with a professional contact who has become a friend, and she relayed a story about a young man in her office for whom she wants to help guide, but can’t figure out how, career-speaking.
He is highly intelligent and majored in Engineering at Tufts, but has ended up in the quality control side of her software business. Underpaid and disinterested, but unsure of where to go instead.
Hearing the struggle from the opposite side of where I usually stand, I could see that for all the frustration the helpee feels, the helper feels plenty too.
In my own game of career darts, for six years seeing which pierced the cork and which fell flat, the most useful things I got from my various advisors and mentors were a sympathetic ear, bits of golden advice, and suggestions for self-exploration. One of my older, wiser, more spontaneous friends even offered to fly me to the Caribbean to sit in a (lush, tropical) corner until I figured out where I belonged.
(I did not take him up on that and if I had, I’d have been there for months. Maybe I should have!!)
What’s true is: you can’t tell someone else what their path should be. You don’t know any more than they don’t know. But, you can listen, observe, and analyze things you see but he or she doesn’t.
As an advisor, elder, or more senior individual, you can:
- Donate resources, referrals, or time (space, knowledge, software)
- Ask uncomfortable questions others won’t
- Recommend relevant reading
As a student, wanderer, or ne’er-do-well, you can:
- Get involved outside of your home or devices, like with a cause or event, which gives you insight into other worlds and creates natural networking
- Read a lot of online articles; Fast Company, GOOD, the Atlantic, Thought Catalog
- Apply for jobs and interview for the experience, but do not settle or misrepresent your heart
- Be honest and unafraid of judgement: tell people you aren’t sure or not entirely in love with your job, that is OK
- Ask people you admire or just like, to have lunch, with no strings attached; you never know when that connection will come in handy
- Pay attention both to what you enjoy doing, and what you are good at, which are not always identical
- Follow-up with professional contacts, friends, mentors, and even interviewers who didn’t hire you (ask them why!)
One thing I told my friend Sarah this morning, about how I have come to a logical career conclusion (of the last six years anyway), is that I had to plant seeds. Nothing happened overnight, and the many pieces and parts of a plan have to be set in motion ahead of time.
I first thought about business school in 2010, and took the GMAT in 2011. But I wasn’t sure about it then, nor did I know anyone in the industry I find appealing (luxury goods). Now I know many, and have a fledgling network even before I embark on schooling for the field.
I also would have been devastated to not be present during my mom’s illness and eventual decline. Those years were very special and sacred, and though they were hard, they were better being here than had I been thousands of miles away.
On the subject of Tampa, I have been ready to leave for some time, but have learned that being part of the change here, instead of simply enjoying the fruits of change in other towns, is more fulfilling.
Through all of those experiences, which I analyzed but did not dwell upon, I grasped the concept of impermanence. And also YOLO. And trusting the universe.
Additionally, faith is critical, in order to not feel the burden of having to control everything. Whether faith comes to you in the form of religion, or simply friends and family, rely on it when things look very bleak (and they will), and you’ll be fine. Just use your brain and your heart, too.
On the ascending side of that period, you’ll look back and realize how everything mattered, but nothing was so awful as it seemed. Nothing lasts forever, and if you plant the right seeds with proper care and maintenance, your future will be very bright.
Words of wisdom–like you’re much older. Thank you Alex–motivating–even for me, at 50.
You are wise beyond years and I’m so happy we are connected. I will make sure both my teens read this – thanks Alex!